No matter where you go, most edged weapons defense instruction focuses on the wrong thing. The emphasis is on knife against knife training. But no matter how much fun this type of training is, it doesn’t reflect the way most attacks occur. It’s important to remember that most edged weapons attacks are sudden and violent. Quite often, you are dealing with an large weapon (not only a folder), and your knife defenses must also work against a stick or a bat.
I recently returned from a seminar tour teaching in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America and met seven individuals who had been violently attacked with edged weapons. None of the individuals could recall what weapon they were attacked with; they only found out later from witnesses or police. Two of these attacks were from a machete, three were from a kitchen knife, two were from hunting knives and only one from a folder-sized knife.
On recounting these assaults, everyone, without exception, mentioned that these were all fast and furious surprise attacks and that they never knew they were stabbed or cut until much later (even when they saw the weapon). Three of these individuals who carried knives didn’t have a chance to use them, they were just trying to fend off the assaults and didn’t have an opportunity to draw them.
Fortunately none these individuals were seriously hurt, but they do have deep scars to remind themselves that an edged weapon attack can come from anywhere and anytime and that a half inch in the wrong direction could have resulted in their demise.
Upon my return I reemphasized the priorities in my knife program to spend more time practicing basic defenses, this is now a prerequisite in the Realfighting Program. The program consists of two stages. The first stage is utilizing improvised weapons, that is: #1) a compact umbrella, a magazine, a briefcase or a bag etc. and #2) the second stage is defending against these attacks unarmed.
Training for Common Attacks
Attacks can be sudden close-range affairs or even someone waving a knife at you from across the street. Don’t underestimate an attack from a distance, remember the “Tueller Drill?” Never stand too close to a potential aggressor, if he’s close enough to touch you with his hand, he’s close enough to stab you. Train against longer edged weapons such as kitchen knives and machetes. These weapons are used much more than most people expect. And make sure that these defenses work against a stick or a bat as well.
The myths that really irritate me the most revolve around fighting and self-defense, and students regularly ask me about these. I’ve listed 10 of the more prominent myths in this article. Believe it or not, a great majority of people still believe these to be indisputable facts.
The one-punch kill!
This is numero uno, the biggest myth of all; I can’t believe so many people still fall for this one. Most healthy people on this planet are extremely resilient and very hard to kill with empty hands. There are however instances where a person may have a personal weakness that can lead to extreme injury or death. Case-in-point, an incident that happened in New York years ago. A few guys riding in an open jeep were trying to make a right turn. A pedestrian was moving too slowly for their taste and a shouting match ensued. Next, a passenger hopped out of the Jeep and reverse punched this guy in the chest. He immediately collapsed and died on the spot! The newspapers issued a statement “karate man kills pedestrian with one punch!”
It was later discovered during the autopsy, that the victim had a particular heart condition that would have killed him if he had fallen down a flight of stairs the wrong way — no one-hit-kill, just a person predisposed to a particular tragic condition. Even karate legend, Egami in his book several years ago, admits there is no such thing as a one-strike-kill, he even went further and stated karate punches were the least powerful among all the types of punching styles he reviewed. The one-punch kill is undoubtedly a myth that was propagated to instill fear and misinformation, too bad many intelligent people still believe it.
Every professional boxer’s hands are registered with the police; therefore most people have little to fear if an altercation is about to ensue in public.
Wrong! A boxer’s just has to obtain a license in order to fight in the ring. In most cases the promoter will help him attain it. Boxer’s do not register themselves with any authority whatsoever. Having a license has no bearing on whether or not he will punch your lights out if he chooses to do so. He may in fact be the first one to deck you. Remember Tyson and Green?
V. 2 of the above myth: My martial artist instructor has such dangerous hands that he had to register them with the police.
If I had a dollar every time I heard this myth I would be living in a multi-million dollar condo on 5th Ave. There is NO SUCH THING. The typical story goes, “my instructor is so deadly that he had to register his hands with the local police.” It never happened and doesn’t exist. If someone tells you this story ask to see the documentation – there will be NONE!
My master’s hands are so tough and so well conditioned, he can break any inanimate objects at will, and feels no pain.
Conditioning limbs and body parts to break inanimate objects are as old as man. It has nothing to do with martial arts and more to do with circus tricks. Being able to break huge slabs of ice, bricks and boards doesn’t mean you can fight at all. I knew a bricklayer who would break stacks of bricks with a moderate slap. He never studied martial arts in his life.
Actually if you closely observe breaking contests you’ll notice that there’s more ingenuity used than power or martial skill. In most cases boards, stones, bricks and tiles are carefully spaced, this creates a domino effect to help break the entire stack. Training to break inanimate objects is also not healthy, it can injure bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. One of the more famous breaking acts was Mas Oyama, His breaking off of bull’s horns wasn’t as noble as you may have heard. He procured sick bulls (tied up inside pens) and would attempt several strikes before the bull would go down. When he got older, he had so much pain in his hands due to arthritis that he could barely use them.
My master is impervious to pain [anywhere on his body] and no matter how hard I hit him, it has no effect.
Anyone can train to take full body shots to any part of the body with minimum effect; I’m not saying it’s easy; it’s a skill unto itself. This again has nothing to do with martial arts; this is more related to many documented turn-of-the-century circus tricks. If you observe these exhibitions carefully, you’ll notice that practitioners prepare themselves mentally for the strikes in a similar fashion that a yogi would prepare himself to walk on fire or lie on a bed of nails. What you never see though, are these same individuals summoning these super-protective powers during a real fight. Light a fire in your yard and invite a yogi to take a walk; you’ll be waiting a long time!
WR, President, Realfighting